Clinical effectiveness and economic costs of group versus one-to-one education for short-chain fermentable carbohydrate restriction (low FODMAP diet) in the management of irritable bowel syndrome

Whigham L1, Joyce T, Harper G, Irving PM, Staudacher HM, Whelan K, Lomer MC. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Apr 14. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12318. [Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: Restriction of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) is an effective dietary treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Patient dietary education is essential but labour intensive. Group FODMAP education may alleviate this somewhat but has not previously been investigated. The present study aimed to investigate the clinical effectiveness of low FODMAP group education in patients with IBS and to explore the cost of a group pathway.

METHODS: Patients with IBS (n = 364) were assessed for their suitability to attend dietitian-led group education or traditional one-to-one education in a novel group pathway. Clinical effectiveness (global symptom question, symptom prevalence, stool output) were compared at baseline and follow-up using the chi-squared test. The costs of the novel group pathway were assessed using a decision model.

RESULTS: The global symptom question indicated more patients were satisfied with their symptoms following dietary advice, in both group education [baseline 48/263 (18%) versus follow-up 142/263 (54%), P < 0.001] and one-to-one education [baseline 5/101 (5%) versus follow-up 61/101 (60%), P < 0.001], with no difference between group and one-to-one education at follow-up (P = 0.271). Overall, there was a significant decrease in symptom severity from baseline to follow-up (P < 0.001 for both groups) but no difference in symptom response between group and one-to-one education. The cost for the group education pathway for all 364 patients was £31 713.36.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study shows that dietitian-led FODMAP group education is clinically effective and the costs associated with a FODMAP group pathway are worthy of further consideration for routine clinical care.

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